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Putting their best foot forward

Most women agree that the typical fashion show is really all about the shoes. Most men roll their eyes at that notion.

However, even the guys found some fabulous footwear at Saturday’s “Strutting in Sneakers” brunch. Of course, these shoes were the latest and greatest in athletic wear, modeled by community leaders.

The new event was sponsored by local fitness company, On A Shoestring, and benefited the local chapter of the American Red Cross. Business owner Steve Litschauer is on the Red Cross board and wanted to help the organization raise some needed cash and showcase their focus on healthier living.

Two vibrant young employees of On A Shoestring took the idea and ran with it, so to speak. Mary Bellows and Lauren Wickman came up with the idea of a fitness fashion show as the highlight of a brunch and raffle. They contacted the store vendors and local businesses for prizes, involved a group of local people to model the clothes and a new fundraiser was born.

The models added a fun twist, and more than 5,000 additional dollars, by raising money on their own for the title of “Top Model.” Whitney Bank’s Jay Digma and Lewis, Longman and Walker attorney Maggie Mooney-Portale turned the competition into a good-natured grudge match. In the end, Jay won the bragging rights although Maggie was the top money-raiser among the women.

Several of the models brought their own cheerleaders. Heidi Whichel brought her daughter, Lori Dengler, to watch niece Krista Hall and the Manatee Chamber of Commerce’s Jahna Leinhauser had co-worker Karen Jones and recently retired Diana Davis in her fan section.

Susan Wilcox, a Florida native, has lived in Bradenton for more than 20 years. She has been active in many local organizations.

as a volunteer or an employee.